Special Report

Special Report

Politico’s Friday Fabrications

By 11.9.15

What a Friday that was: Ben Carson showed emotion when pushing back against a desperately dirt-digging media — dirt-digging against Republicans, that is; George Will remained equanimous in the face of a verbal assault from Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly; Barack Obama gave the coup de grâce to the Keystone XL pipeline; and I had the chance to talk to Fox News’ James Rosen about his fascinating new book on former Vice President Dick Cheney.

(The several links to the Ben Carson story in Politico are different from each other, each representing a new phase in Politico’s incompetent and unethical writing and editing.)

Special Report

Why Common Core Is Cracking Up

By 11.6.15

After a decade in the making, the Common Core State Standards are on track to replace uneven state standards in English, mathematics, and other basic academic subjects. But as a rising number of parents and elected officials question this emerging national catechism, the program is meeting new resistance.

First proposed by a coalition of governors and state school superintendents, Common Core codifies what elementary and high school students should study and know after completing each grade.

Strictly speaking, the standards are not a curriculum. Nominally, how subjects are taught and the materials used are decisions left to individual states and school districts. Supporters insist they will raise academic proficiency and ensure uniformly high standards across the nation.

Special Report

A National Portrait of Margaret Sanger

By 10.30.15

Fifteen years ago I came across in an archive “A Plan for World Peace” issued by a prominent American just months before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany.

The plan advocated “a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.” For the tens of millions of Americans whose genes the author judged objectionable but who themselves judged sterilization objectionable, the plan offered “farm lands and homestead for these segregated persons where they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.”

Special Report

How Boehner Got His Groove On

By 10.29.15

As John Boehner this week steps down as Speaker of the House, it’s worth telling the never-reported tale of how Boehner first got on the House Republican leadership track in the first place. The story shows, in microcosm, both Boehner’s remarkable skill-set and his oft-infuriating wheeler-dealer nature.

Let’s start the story sort of in the middle. It was in November of 1994, the second day after the then-remarkable takeover of the House by Republicans for the first time in 40 years. U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana, for whom I worked as press secretary (plus certain special projects), was walking up Independence Avenue with me, alongside the Longworth Building. He was telling me that he wasn’t sure yet if he wanted me to serve as chief of staff of the House Republican Conference, or as its Communications Director. As the main job of the Conference Chairman is to oversee internal communications among House Republican offices, I saw the two jobs as equally invigorating: either way, I would be in the middle of developing overarching communications strategy for the new Republican Congress.

Special Report

Alien Zombies, Ausonius, and the Excellent Sheep

By 10.28.15

On a crisp autumn afternoon two boys are playing near the Central Park reservoir in Manhattan. They are on the lookout for alien zombies, texting reports to one other from their smartphones.

Our boys live in a world of environmental stress, exploding populations, broken borders, and shattered cities. Families, religions, and schools are buckling around them. For many of their elders, patriotism has fallen into disrepute. Although they don’t quite know it, centuries of scripture, law, and literature are fading authorities of worldly wisdom and salvation.

Their textbooks and teachers, fetishizing multiculturalism, tell them to ignore or renounce the inherited past. The Disney corporation defines their idea of virtue, and Howard Zinn writes their nation’s history.

Special Report

The Irrefutable Case for Paul Ryan

By 10.22.15

(UPDATE: On Wednesday evening, the Freedom Caucus announced that a “supermajority” of its members support Paul Ryan for Speaker. While they did not reach the 80 percent threshold of the caucus members needed to issue a formal endorsement, this is, as Rep. Ryan put it, “a positive step toward a unified Republican team.” Ryan’s becoming speaker is still no sure thing, though more likely than it was Wednesday morning. Some Freedom Caucus members seem hesitant to switch their endorsement from Rep. Daniel “Not the Dictionary Guy” Webster; perhaps they should have thought of that before endorsing someone who never had a chance to win the job.

Special Report

Arthur Miller — Communist

By 10.16.15

October 17, 2015 is the centenary of the birth of Arthur Miller, one of the literary left’s shining lights and righteous crusaders against some of liberals’ worst demons: Joe McCarthy, “HUAC,” and, more generally, anti-communism. Yes, anti-communism. As often noted by Harvard’s Richard Pipes and the Hoover Institution’s Robert Conquest, few things have animated liberal animus quite like anti-communism. It’s not that liberals have been pro-communist so much as they are anti-anti-communist. They dislike anti-communists more than they dislike communists. Their preferred demon isn’t Joe Stalin but Joe McCarthy. As James Burnham, the great ex-communist, put it, “for the left, the preferred enemy is always to the right.”

Special Report

Bourgeois Equality for Conservatives

By 10.15.15

Two or three centuries ago a new and equal economic liberty, with a new and equal social dignity, emboldened ordinary people to have a go. The dual change in ethics, first in Holland and then in the Anglosphere — equal liberty and equal dignity — yielded gigantic innovation. You might call the change “bourgeois equality,” because the woolen weavers and telegraph operators called to innovation would move into the middle class, now honored. Whatever you call it, the ethical change produced the Great Enrichment, the astounding, unpredictable leap from the $3 a day typical in 1800 of our ancestors up to the $130 a day we now enjoy. The Enrichment had little to do with the usual suspects, the ancient routines of trade and investment and exploitation and rule of law. It had to do with a startling change in how people viewed each other.

Special Report

A Continent Under Siege

By 10.14.15

For many Americans, the European migrant crisis is fading, out of sight and out of mind. That’s too bad, since uninvited asylum seekers from the Near and Middle East are pouring into Europe at a rising rate. The exact number is staggering, uncertain, and disputed. Perhaps 250,000 arrived in September alone.

One might not blame these opportunistic newcomers. At the same time, Europe cannot rationally stand by and pursue the policies it has. The continent faces its greatest existential crisis in decades.

On October 5 Germany’s top-selling newspaper Bild reported — based on leaked government forecasts — that an astonishing 1.5 million migrants could enter Germany this year. This is nearly double the previous official figure of 800,000 and five times the size of the government’s March estimate.

This summer, Germans greeted chancellor Angela Merkel’s moves enthusiastically. The mood is quickly changing. Fifty-one percent of Germans now believe the country can’t cope with the flood of migrants, up from 40 percent two weeks ago.